Another year is wrapping up. We’d like to think that this year was safer than the last, thanks to the efforts of Canada’s law enforcement personnel and organizations like MADD who have spread the message that impaired driving is an idea whose time is long gone. Also worthy of mention are the citizens of Canada who have taken that message to heart: they’re driving sober every day, and encouraging others to do the same.
We’re up against the persistent mentality that says that it’s okay to drink and drive, as long as you’re not roaring drunk. Despite the evidence that “just a few” are plenty enough to turn anyone into a dangerous driver, many people believe that their limit is much higher than it is.
There were other problems too:
- Birthday binge drinking, for example, is still rife – especially among those celebrating the attainment of legal drinking age on their 19th birthday
- Yukon qualifes as a problem on its own – it’s something of an outlier, with a drunk driving rate five times the national average
- In addition to drinking, texting is something that Canadians won’t let go of, even though we have proof that it’s causing road deaths – fully a third of Canadians are texting and driving
- And there was Canadian superstar Justin Bieber – file him under “problem” too
- British Columbia proposed raising its speed limit
- Alberta is tossing around the idea of longer drinking hours
- The Wildrose Party wants to to roll back DUI laws, which they feel are oppressive
- But a victim of drunk driving feels that BC laws are not tough enough, even though they have cut deaths by half
- We ruled on new beverages: thumbs down for Tim Horton’s coffee-flavoured beer, and a wait-and-see for session beers, which affect people less but might be encouraging people to drink more
Seeing What Works
- Saskatchewan strengthened its DUI laws, and that’s working well
- Nova Scotia is very active in trying new approaches. Apart from just arresting bad drivers, which admittedly has been successful, the province is rewarding good drivers with gifts to signal appreciation for courtesy on the road. NS is also slowing down its graduated licencing process for new drivers, and is debating whether to allow drivers who have lifetime licence revocations to drive again – with an ignition interlock
- Hot Spot Parking in New Brunswick had a good idea: letting drivers in Fredericton pick up their cars downtown the day after a party night without paying extra
The Good News
- DUI arrests were down at the annual Calgary Stampede
- More people are reporting drunk driving
- And in Prince Edward Island, there’s proof that their ignition interlock program is making roads safer
It’s encouraging to end the year with good news, and we hope that next year will be an even safer one for everyone in Canada. Happy New Year, and drive safely!